THE JOLLY GREEN GIANT HANGS ‘EM UP
Long-time VAFA observer Max McGraw has been sunning himself overseas and has just heard the news that Rambo had retired and has since penned a tribute.
Say it ain’t so, Rambo! With that threadbare #23 Trinity jumper soaked with the sweat of 348 games, the big man has finally handed it over to be laundered a final time, perhaps to be hung from the rafters in the Hedgeburners’ clubhouse.
Rambo joined the Ts in 1992 and played in the U19s. The big colt didn’t crack the seniors until his third season. Four years later, he was wearing the Big V and was a mainstay in representative football until 2005, the year he won the Woodrow.
There had been chatter for a decade about Andrew Ramsden retiring. The years of rucking against bigger, stronger blokes each week were taking their toll, but while those fellows came and went, the Grasshoppers’ champion stayed, moving almost full time to the forward line to create some havoc. He created plenty, often in tandem with Andy Cultrera, who played Robin to the big guy’s Batman.
Kicking big goals in big situations had always been a pastime. I well recall him saving the Greens from relegation one August day at Toorak Park. After rucking for three quarters, he went to the front and flattened an Old Xaverian defence that had been hitherto looked in no trouble. One could never count him out. He was one of those players who to me looked slow, but he could whup opponents in a millisecond.
Once he moved more permanently to the goal square, back where it all began, he terrified opponents, but became a more stationary target. It was not only supporters of opposing teams that liked to ride him. The on-field niggling became a weekly event and turning the other cheek resulted in the other one being slapped too. As a consequence, the great man had his number taken on several occasions, including in his 300th game.
Suspensions couldn’t stop him and he continued to kick goals, and was perhaps unlucky not to have worn the Big V again in later years, particularly as he led all goalkickers in Premier section in 2010 and 2012.
The old dog learned some new tricks along the way too. The Ts played a Sunday game at headquarters a couple of years back and Ramsden had already slotted a couple. A new opponent was assigned and the wily defender knew enough not to concede front position to the big fellow. Next time the ball came in, the young defender slid in front. Ramsden took the mark but not before pushing his opponent with such force that he sprawled on to the ground in font of the pack. The veteran stood still, repentant with back still to the goal, waiting to throw the ball to the man he had shoved, who slowly regained his feet. But the man in white had missed that which every other player and spectator had seen and lined the great man up for a gift six-pointer. For the next fifteen minutes, it was Rambo on fire. He kicked eight for the game, failing to notch his career best when he hit the woodwork from close range in the last.
Ramsden spent a season at Essendon and played one Reserves game with Carlton. Other than that, he spent twenty years bleeding green and gold, won a swag of club best and fairests and played in three Premier B flags. He hangs them up while still capable of great things. Even those who were less than friendly to him between 2:00 and 4:30 on Saturdays will truly miss his presence and one can’t say that about too many footballers who have turned forty.
Thanks for the memories, Rambo. You are a VAFA great.
THE JOLLY GREEN GIANT HANGS ‘EM UP